Students to protest over accommodation fee increase

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Library Grass

Around 300 students are set to protest tomorrow afternoon over Durham University’s increase to college accommodation fees.

The protest, which has attracted national media attention, is being organised by Durham Students for University Reform (DSUR) and will see students gather outside the Bill Bryson Library at 1pm tomorrow.

DSUR are demanding a two-year freeze of accommodation fees, greater transparency from the University and reform of the University’s governing structures so that students are involved in the setting of accommodation fees.

Harry Cross, co-chair of DSUR, told Palatinate: “By organising the largest student protest at Durham in years we aim to leave no doubt as to the strength of student opinion on this issue. College accommodation fees in Durham have risen over 20% in recent years with a knock-on effect on the level of rent charged by landlords in the city, impacting both students and residents.

“We expect immediate commitments addressing the accommodation crisis in Durham that the University has created.”

“We’re addressing acting Vice-Chancellor Ray Hudson to let him know that we expect immediate commitments addressing the accommodation crisis in Durham that the University has created. Failing that, the five candidates to his succession should prepare themselves for sustained campaigning by students on the issue of college accommodation costs.”

He added: “Durham University has forced through such unpopular decisions year on year because it relies on the apathy of students, which is why University accommodation costs £2,500 more in Durham than in Newcastle.

“Sadly, the university seems more concerned with its external reputation than the opinion of students. By organising this event we will force the University to acknowledge the existence of the accommodation crisis and to justify its behaviour as the largest landlord in Durham City.

“Since it is clear the University cannot build a convincing case we have the potential of forcing a change of policy by the University.”

A standard room for freshers and finalists will cost £6,819 in the next academic year, up from £6,289 this year.

In an email to students in November, the University revealed that 33% of students’ accommodation fees is spent on capital and borrowing.

Photograph: Emma Werner

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